Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This past week has been a whirlwind of last-minute bill requests and late-night committee meetings. Today is the fiscal committee cutoff. Any bill that made it through its respective “policy committee” and has a fiscal impact of any kind has to make it through a “fiscal committee” by tonight.
The different cutoffs put in place throughout session help bills move through the process relatively smoothly and allows us avoid too much of a logjam of legislation at any one time. In theory. The reality is, as we approach each cutoff date there seems to be a mad rush of bills that are suddenly deemed “critical to the survival of the human race as we know it” and the stack of bills needing our attention grows larger by the minute instead of smaller.
In the end, it all seems to work out, despite the tired, red-eyed stares of both staff and Representatives. I'm very much looking forward to a weekend at home.
As most of you have heard by now the state Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the two-thirds legislative vote requirement for tax increases is unconstitutional. While I don't agree with the Court's ruling, I do think it shows the extreme need to have the Taxpayer Protection Act placed into the state constitution. I am supporting legislation this year to do just that. My fear at the moment is that without the two-thirds protection, a lot of pent-up “spending aggression” from the other side will be unleashed on us all at once. We've already seen proposals from the House majority party to create a state income tax, expand the death tax, raise the gas tax by 10-cents a gallon, and to reinstate the dreaded Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET). With no taxpayer protections in place, who knows what the other side will dream up. We'll have to remain vigilant.
I mentioned the MVET – do you remember this tax? This is the one where you'd walk into the DMV to get your new license tabs and be hit with a $100 – $200 fee. Some person behind the counter would tell you that your car was worth $6,000 according to the little book they were reading, and because of that, you now owed the state $100. You would turn and look at the car you bought from your uncle Clem two years ago for $450 (and you thought you were being generous at the time), and you'd say: “That piece of junk? Worth $6,000? Lady, I'll sell it to ya right now for half that – what do you say?”
The point is, the MVET is a very arbitrary tax. It's based on the supposed value of your car, which is a very difficult thing to determine. The people of this state voted against the MVET and for $30 car tab fees. I think we should honor the voters in this and I will work as hard as I can to help defeat the proposed MVET.
While I'm always happy to help keep you updated on legislation in Olympia, there are new, easy ways to track legislation from your computer. Go to www.leg.wa.gov and click on “Bill Search” in the upper right hand corner to find a bill and see where it is in the legislative process. You can also scroll down and click on the “Personal Bill Tracking Lists” to create your own list of bills that you want the system to keep track of. You can create an account and pretty much have as much access as I do from my Olympia office! You can even send comments to me on specific bills!
You can also go to www.washingtonvotes.org to find more information and track legislation. Either way, there are resources out there for you to use. I encourage folks at home to stay involved and spread the word to family and friends. This is truly YOUR government.
As always, I'm here to help if you need me. And again, if you didn't have a chance to vote in our “gas tax survey,” click here. I really do want to know how feel about this issue. Thanks for the opportunity to serve you in Olympia!